Shadowlands

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 3 October 2007, Opened 8 October 2007, Closed 15 December 2007 at the Wyndham's Theatre
Transferred 21 December 2007, Closed 23 February 2008 at the Novello Theatre in London

A major revival of William Nicholson's award winning play Shadowlands in London starring Charles Dance and Janie Dee.

William Nicholson's play Shadowlands is set in Oxford during the 1950s and is the moving true love story between CS Lewis and Joy Davidman. C S Lewis was a leading Christian academic and author of many classic books including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; and The Screwtape Letters. Joy Davidman was an American divorcee with two young children who was known for her outspoken views and acerbic wit. Lewis had remained a confirmed bachelor until his fifties when he met, and was enchanted by, Joy Davidman. They fell in love and were secretly married. Lewis' ensuing encounter with love and suffering led him to reconsider many of the beliefs he had held so staunchly before their fateful meeting.

The cast for Shadowlands in London features Charles Dance as 'C S Lewis' and Janie Dee as 'Joy Davidman' along with John Standing as 'Professor Christopher Riley', Richard Durden as 'Major W H Lewis' and Osmund Bullock as 'Dr Maurice Oakley' with Adrian Fear, John Harwood, Sioned Jones, Drew Mullingan, Graham Padden and Naomi Paxton. Directed by Michael Barker-Caven with designs by Matthew Wright and lighting by Peter Mumford. This production is based on a Charity Rehearsed Reading of the play that Charles Dance and Janie Dee did in London in December 2006 in aid of The Pahar Trust (Nepal). The event proved so successful with Charles Dance and Janie Dee playing lead roles that it was decided to produce a fully staged version of the play with them both reprising their roles for the stage.

Janie Dee's West End theatre credits include the Duke Ellington musical Sophisticated Ladies at the Globe Theatre (now Gielgud Theatre) in 1992.

"Much has been written about the nature of my stepfather's relationship with my mother and it seems strange to me that Shadowlands comes closer to the truth than anything else I have read." Joy's son, Douglas Gresham

"This is a beautiful revival... Charles Dance, giving the greatest performance of his career, is playing CS Lewis, writer and old-fashioned Oxford don, crusty but kindly, cautiously jovial, a confirmed bachelor, prickly but generous; corduroy and well-worn brogues, a touch shabby, signifying a cosy but well-fortified humility... Janie Dee plays Joy as elegant, almost glamorous, crisply but not ostentatiously sexy, a young Manhattan battle-axe with a heart... Michael Barker-Caven's direction is tactful, precise, deeply moving and entirely unsentimental." The Sunday Times

"More than most of us, C.S. Lewis, theologian, academic and creator of the bewitching Narnia stories, was preoccupied by the idea of there being otherworlds than this. This one, he insisted, is but a shadow of the life to come. His faith, as William Nicholson's superb Shadowlands dramatises, was to be sorely tested when the 'Jewish communist Christian' Joy Gresham, a feisty American he comes to love almost too late, dies, much too young, of cancer. At the centre of Michael Barker-Craven's flawless production, steeped in booksand bookishness, is a searing dramatic duet between Charles Dance and JanieDee. An exquisitely low-key Dance - nervous hands buried deep in the pockets ofhis dusty tweed jacket, the odd reticent smile and a snatched sideways glance - could not be more convincing as the desiccated-as-deadleaves old don surprisedby joy when he hesitantly allows a friendship to blossom into romantic love... Dusted with delightfully dry wit, and not for one secondsentimental, nevertheless it left me awash with tears, more so than ever beforein the theatre. A rich and rewarding play, devastatingly well realised." The Mail on Sunday

William Nicholson on writing his play Shadowlands: "There are certain restrictions or requirements [when adapting the lives of real people]; you can't just make things up. However - I have done this kind of adaptation quite a lot - usually in people's real lives there are huge gaps where nobody quite knows what happened. In the case of the relationship between C S Lewis and Joy Davidman, obviously I followed the facts such as they are known, but nobody really knew anything about this love affair. There are no records, there are no books about it or anything like that, so I just made that up as best as I could, while at the same time continuing to work within the framework of what is actually known. I did not try to simply recreate situations but to create 'characters' which came alive for me, characters who had the same external facts of life as the real personalities on which they were based. For the purposes of dramatic clarity, for instance, I only gave joy one child instead of the two she had in real life. Similarly, there were some suggestions that I had toned down the more abrasive elements of Joy's character. As to the truth of that, we only have the opinions of people who themselves felt very excluded at the time. My choice was to create the character of Joy in such a way that it was entirely possible for Lewis - and the audience, and myself as playwright - to fall in love with her."

The original production of Shadowlands was originally seen in London at The Queen's Theatre where it opened in October 1989, running for just under a year and winning The 1990 Evening Standard Award for 'Play of the Year'. The play was subsequently staged on Broadway at The Brooks Atkinson Theatre where it was nominated for two Tony Awards including that for 'Best Play'. Nigel Hawthorne, who played C.S. Lewis, won the Tony Award for 'Best Actor'. The film version won the BAFTA Award for 'Film of the Year'.

Shadowlands in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 3 October 2007, opened on 8 October 2007 and closed on 15 December 2007, transferred to the Novello Theatre from 21 December 2007, closed on 23 February 2008.